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Russia Triumphant over Host Canada

Published: May 20, 2008 (Issue # 1374)


Getting a Canadian to swallow his or her pride after a monumental world hockey championship loss on home soil and to look at the bigger picture is a tough task indeed. Let this Canadian living in St. Petersburg then not wallow in misery after a game fairly played to write on the broader theme of sports and society. Forgive me if I wax a bit poetic in the shadow of defeat.

Canada and Russia have over the years shared a great hockey legacy with both a fierce rivalry and sense of sportsmanship that highlights the positive role sport can play in international relations. When Russians think of Canada one of the first things they speak of is hockey. There is a shared understanding through hockey among our two northern nations with legends and heroes that youngsters have looked up to as role models. An IIHF Centennial All-Star Team was named this year with one Canadian, Wayne Gretzky (the great one), and four Russians, Sergei Makarov, Valery Kharlamov, Vladislav Tretyak and Vyacheslav Fetisov.

Though sporting events sometimes reach such a fevered pitch that hooligans react with violence outside of the stadiums and arenas, one message is that competition does not have to be played in a spirit of conflict, but with a sense of mutual respect for the game and for the opponent. It is the triumphalism of world power that obscures victory in athletic competitions after the winners and losers are awarded their just due. Let us hope the new-found nationalism in Russia after celebrations on the streets of Russia following Zenit St. Petersburgs and now the national hockey teams victory, does not extend to the realm of seeking a return to super-power world-status in an unhealthy way. In sports as in society, sooner or later ones ego is always subdued.

Watching the tournament, the semifinals and the final, I can say that the best team won. Russia is back at the pinnacle of world hockey once again. The final was a great game, really a wonderful finish for the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Canadas Prime Minster, Stephen Harper was of course on hand in Quebec, anxiously watching the events unfold. Yet there were Russian flags and Ru-ssi-a chants echoing through the stadium as well. There was no animosity or fighting among the spectators, just a closely fought match with a rollercoaster of goals and lead changes.

Hockey, it is said, is almost a religion for some people in Canada. This is a hockey mad-country, said Alexander Ovechkin, one of the most talented players in the game today; an intimidating force on ice. His 65 goals in the NHL were the first time a player scored more than 60 goals since 1995-1996.

However, the one who tamed the hockey-mad Canadians was Ilya Kovalchuk. God was on our side a little more than them, claimed Kovalchuk.

Scoring his first goal of the tournament to send the game into overtime and then the overtime winner, Kovalchuk may be the keenest interpreter of the divine inspiration of the current epoch for loyal Russian hockey fans.

It may be fitting for the Canadians to be humbled in front of their home crowd. But not only was this a symbolic event for world hockey, it also sets off events marking the 400th birthday of the city of Quebec, which hosted the final. What better way than at the hockey rink for Canada to be a generous host?

They say pride comes before the fall. Lets hope this is springtime for Russian sports that will lead to a blossoming of talent in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games and then onwards to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We all know that the Olympics are the measuring stick... If youre talking about supremacy in hockey, you talk about the Olympics, noted Canadian Coach Ken Hitchcock. The U.S.S.R won an Olympic gold medal in hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada. Lets see what happens in Vancouver 2010 and then Sochi 2014! Bring it on!

Gregory Sandstrom is a PhD student in Sociology at St. Petersburg State University, sports fan of all sorts and Olympic Games guest correspondent.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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